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Related FAQs: Lachnolaimus maximus, Hogfishes in General, Hogfish Identification, Hogfish Behavior, Hogfish Compatibility, Hogfish Selection, Hogfish Systems, Hogfish Feeding, Hogfish Disease, Hogfish Reproduction, Wrasses, Wrasse Selection, Wrasse Behavior, Wrasse Compatibility, Wrasse Feeding, Wrasse Diseases,  

Related Articles: The Wrasses, Family Labridae

 /The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

The "King" of Hogfish Wrasses, Lachnolaimus maximus

By Bob Fenner

A juvenile and adult in profile, Bahamas

     Got the need, space for a REALLY BIG Hogfish? How about one that attains three feet in length and twenty two pounds? Now, that's a hog! This is a tale of just this species, a gentle giant of the tropical West Atlantic that at times makes its way into pet-fish markets (and more often food-fish ones), Lachnolaimus maximus

    There are other Hogfishes of course (genus Bodianus), in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Oceans. The only non-Bodianus hog, THE Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus is monotypic, the only member of its genus. 


    Nova Scotia in Canada (during warm upwelling periods), to the northern part of South America, throughout the Caribbean to the northern Gulf of Mexico.


    Recorded maximum of 91 cm. length and 10 kilos weight. Most seen are seventeen inch ones in the wild, one footers in captivity.

Lachnolaimus maximus (Walbaum 1792), is THE Hogfish in the tropical western Atlantic. A beauty when small (most offered in the trade at 6-8 inches) but quickly grows BIG (to thirty-two inches in the wild!). A shy giant that often comes in too beat to acclimate to captivity. Below, an eight inch juvenile in captivity just out of its mottled color phase, a one foot and two and a half foot individuals in the Grand Bahamas Channel. Note pronounced snout and black caudal band of adult.

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.


    I've yet to see a bad specimen that was still alive. This is one wrasse that ships and adapts well to captivity, given speedy acclimation/placement and adequate feedings. They come in either alive and well or DOA, little of  intermediate quality.



    Can you say LARGE? Definitely bigger is better with this fish. It's found associated with reefs, though most of the ones I have encountered have been near the sand bottom near rocky reef areas. The species doesn't hide per se, but either swims toward divers (in areas where spearfishing isn't done... they're delicious) or swims slightly away, out of distance. Your specimen will want to shy away from people approaching the tank... hopefully a giant tank to accommodate its constant cruising.

    Subdued lighting is best... in fact a deeper water biotopic presentation would be ideal... with many of the fishes, algae, invertebrates from the area making a real habitat.

Water Quality:

    Tolerant of vacillating water quality to a point. Best supplied with over-size skimmer, circulation, particulate filtration for their mechanicals. 



    Have seen more than one juvenile in proximity on the reef, but strongly encourage just having one, unless you have thousands, tens of thousands of gallons of space (as in Public Aquariums).

    Small fishes might become meals, as well as any shellfish (clam, crustacean) or sea urchins. These are favored food items in the wild.

    Other larger, smart, fast fishes should be fine, particularly ones that hail from the region. Large Atlantic angels, other wrasses, 


    Recorded as spawning during May, June, July off of Cuba. 


    The species eats mainly mollusks, crabs, and sea urchins in the wild, but adapts to most meaty foods as long as there is plenty of them, once accustomed to their appearance. For small individuals, twice daily feedings are called for, larger ones can get by on three feedings weekly.

Disease, Prevention/Cure

    This is one of the most disease resistant wrasses I know. It will be amongst the last to show signs of parasitic infestation, or succumb to infectious disease. Most die from stress associated with being in too small confines or starvation.


     Amongst the wrasses, family Labridae, there are larger members (like the Napoleon, Cheilinus undulatus), but not many. But don't let it's size, starting or maximum dissuade you from considering this gentle giant for your humongous fish only or specialized reef tank. This Hog could be just the show specimen for your swimming pool size (or conversion!) tank of tropical Western Pacific life. 

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Fenner, Robert. 1996. The wrasses we call hogfishes. TFH 10/96.

Fenner, Robert. 2000. A Fishwatcher's Guide to the Tropical Aquarium Fishes of the World (including the TWAtlantic). WetWebMedia, San Diego, CA. 196pp.

Humann, Paul. 1994 (5th ed). Reef Fish Identification. Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, Inc. Jacksonville, FL. 396pp. 

Michael, Scott W. 1997. Hogfish. A mysterious common name. AFM 5/97.

Nelson, Joseph S. 1994. Fishes of the World. 3rd Ed. Wiley. 600pp.

Randall, John E. 1996 (3d ed.). Caribbean Reef Fishes. T.F.H. Publications, NJ. 368pp.

Thresher, Ronald. 1977. Caribbean wrasses. Marine Aquarist 8:2,77.Weingarten, Robert A. Sexual/reproductive patterns in Caribbean wrasses (Labridae). FAMA 12/91.

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